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Top 10 Music Videos Featuring Dancers of 2014


By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.

2014 has come to an end, but what a year it was for dance in music videos! It seems the music and entertainment industry really leaned in close to the dance scene to not only garner inspiration for new projects, but to pick artists and feature companies in videos and productions. And of course, the dance scene did what it does best – amaze and inspire.

Now, it’s not like dance in music videos is new – far from it. (Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” and Beyoncé’s popular “Single Ladies” should come to mind, along with dozens of others.) In fact, dance and music videos have had a happy marriage for a long, long time. But like any relationship, it has its ups and downs. Recently, dance has reclaimed its role in the spotlight and actually stolen the show.

Here is Dance Informa’s top 10 list of music videos highlighting dance in 2014, in no particular order.

Sia’s “Chandelier”

This video helped further propel Maddie Ziegler of Dance Moms fame into the limelight when it was released in May to great fanfare. Choreographed by Ryan Heffington, owner of the Sweat Spot in Los Angeles, “Chandelier” presents 11-year-old Ziegler in a skin-colored leotard and a platinum wig acting the part of a fully fledged mental case in a dingy, rundown house. She tilts, turns, jerks, kicks, leaps and pretty much goes crazy – all the while showing off her excellent extension and hyper flexibility.

Ziegler captivated in her role so much so that she was requested onto the Ellen Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live. In September, Ziegler danced her renowned routine with Allison Holker to Sia’s live performance of “Chandelier” on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. This music video and its star have certainly brought dance some extra attention this year, with the video getting more than 424 million views thus far.

Taylor Swift in Shake It Off

Taylor Swift as a ballerina in her “Shake It Off” music video. Photo source: Vevo.

Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”

Yet, perhaps the most popular music video of the year is Taylor Swift’s adorable and dorky “Shake It Off”, which has over 436 million  (and counting!) YouTube views since the video’s release in mid-August. While an obvious choice for this list because of how much dance is featured, the real highpoint is the diversity of dance. The video cycles Swift through a variety of movement styles, everything from ballet, to hip-hop, to contemporary, to cheerleading, to tutting, to twerking. Directed by Mark Romanek, the video also had the creative input of choreographer Tyce Diorio and featured professional dancers like So You Think You Can Dance alumni Melissa Sandvig, Fik-Shun and hip-hop phenomenon Phillip Chbeeb.

Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t”

Speaking of Phillip Chbeeb, did you see him killing it in this video? Released in early August, this sinewy hip-hop dancer (also known as “PacMan”) shows off his many moves, popping, locking and high stepping in this rags-to-riches saga that was directed by Emil Nava. Perhaps you remember Chbeeb as a contestant on Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance? If not, maybe you saw him in the 2012 movie Step Up Revolution or the latest Step Up All In.

With the guidance of choreography team NappyTabs (A.K.A. Emmy Award-winners Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo), Chbeeb uses dance to convey his journey from a guy down on his luck to one literally swimming in the life of luxury. (Also, shout out to Shaping Sound dancer Justine Lutz who was featured in this video and “Shake It Off.”)

Ed Sheeran dancing in Thinking Out Loud

Still of Ed Sheeran dancing with Brittany Cherry in “Thinking Out Loud.”

Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”

Also, while we’re appreciating English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, we can’t bypass his awesome debut into the world of ballroom in his “Thinking Out Loud” music video. This video stands out for many reasons. First off, Sheeran who usually keeps a relatively low profile not only takes centre stage, but he actually does so dancing! The video, which received 2.7 million views in less than 24 hours, was choreographed by Nappytabs as well. It features SYTYCD Season 10 alum Brittany Cherry as Sheeran’s love interest.

According to Rolling Stone, Cherry actually spent five hours per day secretly training Sheeran for the music video while she was on tour with him earlier this year. His hard work definitely paid off.

The Veronica’s “You Ruin Me”

Australian pop duo The Veronicas released their emotive song “You Ruin Me” off their third studio album in September. The music video, which was filmed on location in Los Angeles and in Sydney’s State Theatre and Bangarra Dance Theatre, was inspired by ballet, and more specifically, Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film Black Swan.

Directed by Matt Sharp and Tapehead, the video features ballerinas warming up in class and their dodgy instructor, played by choreographer Jason Winters, making some suspect moves on his dancers. While the scenes aren’t necessary filled with great, technically proficient dance sequences, they do bring viewers into the competitive, and sometimes dark, world of professional dance.

The Veronicas performed “You Ruin Me” on Australia’s X Factor in late September and the song was used for Dancing with the Stars on October 30.

Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water”

If Swift’s “Shake It Off” video gets the 2014 award for being the most fun and cutesy, then American Idol winner and country singer Carrie Underwood’s recent video “Something in the Water” gets the award for being the most touching.

“Something in the Water” features Underwood singing her gospel-influenced song surrounded by 12 dancers from Shaping Sound dance company. The dancers, who are outfitted in loose gray/off-white shirts and dresses, beautifully move and turn in ankle-deep water as the lyrics allude to baptism. Choreographed by none other than Travis Wall, this video will give you chills.

Lindsay Nelko with dancers

Lindsay Nelko, centre, with dancers Kathryn McCormick and Robert Roldan on set of “Get Out Alive.”

Sheena Grobb’s “Get Out Alive”

Another video that is sure to give you chills is this small-budget project for Canadian singer-songwriter Sheena Grobb’s heartbreaking “Get Out Alive.” Choreographed, produced and co-creatively conceptualized by Lindsay Nelko, it features SYTYCD all-stars Kathryn McCormick and Robert Roldan in a desperate, poignant pas de deux. Be warned that this video may make you want to curl up and eat chocolate.

The Bynars’ “Time vs. Money”

One video that seemed to fly relatively under the radar this year was ballet-infused “Time vs. Money” by The Bynars. Combining ballet with the pop/rock sounds from this Boston-based indie band might seem a little odd and even forced at first, but once you start watching you’ll agree that this video is really quite neat.

“Time vs. Money” features dancers Kirsten Evans and Alex Lantz of Festival Ballet Providence in Rhode Island. The duo performs choreography by the 2009 Youth American Grand Prix Outstanding Choreographer, Viktor Plotnikov.

Conceived and directed by Shaun Clarke, the video’s most notable quality is its lighting. Shot in black-and-white, it uses contrasting bright light and heavy shadow to give it a classic, rock-and-roll feel. That paired with the actual choreography and the confidence with which the dancers deliver it colors it a gloriously punk moment.

OK Go’s “I Won’t Let You Down”

And the most epic music video of the year award goes to OK Go! Released on October 27, this ‘’eye-popping, retro-futuristic video” (as dubbed by Billboard) includes hi-tech scooters, umbrella-wielding dancing schoolgirls and one very large car park. And to make things even crazier, the ambitious video was shot in one continuous five-minute take by drone cameras!

Music video by The Bynars

Still from The Bynars’ “Time vs. Money” music video.

Directed by Kazuaki Seki, the video opens with the Grammy Award-winning four-piece band resting on Honda UNI-CUB scooters. The band members ride the scooters through a school and out into a car park, where all the real magic happens.

What’s most impressive about this massive dance spectacle? How choreographer Furitsukekagyou air:man ensured that each dancer’s umbrella opened, closed and twirled in perfect unison. You truly have to see it to believe it. Just wow.

Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside”

Lastly, Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was released in November. It features two adorable, fancy-footing youngsters in place of the celebrity singers. Choreographed by Lynn Page, known for her work on London’s West End and Broadway’s La Cage Aux Folles, it has the kids dancing and flirting away in a swanky hotel as they lip-sync the lyrics. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing the names Emily Carey and Harry Collett again one day down the road. In the meantime, enjoy this fun little dance number, reminiscent of days long ago when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were hot and everyone wanted to be ballroom dancers on the silver screen.

Did we miss a music video from 2014 that you think should have been included? If so, please let us know in the comments below! Have a Happy New Year! 

Photo (top): Maddie Ziegler in Sia’s ”Chandelier” music video. Photo by Sebastian Wintero.

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Patriotic Dances for Independence Day


By Mary Callahan of Dance Informa.

Most Americans celebrate the 4th of July with hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks… But really, what better way is there to celebrate America’s birthday than with dance? Dance Informa has collected a few famous patriotic performances to help you get in the spirit of Independence Day.

1) George Balanchine choreographed Stars and Stripes on the New York City Ballet in 1958. The piece, which lasts about 28 minutes and is divided into four sections, is set to the music of John Philip Sousa. Stars and Stripes illustrates all things “4th of July” with the dancers baton-twirling, marching and even bearing rifles! This clip is from the fourth campaign of Stars and Stripes, a virtuosic pas de deux between the “Liberty Bell” and “El Capitan.” You’ll probably recognize this piece from a scene in the iconic dance film Center Stage.

2) For his musical revue Dancin’, Bob Fosse choreographed a collection of Americana pieces in Act III, including Dixie, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Rally Around the Flag, The Stars and Stripes Forever and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Dancin’ won Fosse the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Choreography in 1978. The Broadway company of Dancin’ performed these patriotic pieces for Bob Hope’s 76th birthday, a USO-type show on board the USS Iwo Jima in 1979. While not much video footage exists of these pieces, the Verdon Fosse Estate (under the direction of Nicole Fosse) is working to research, reconstruct and archive these dances to preserve them for future generations of dancers. Here is an old television commercial for Dancin’:

3) Known as “America’s Sweethearts,” the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders often perform for American troops stationed overseas. Here is a clip from their visit to US Army soldiers in Korea.

4) The Will Rogers Follies was a 1991 Tony award-winning musical (Best Musical, Score, Choreography, Direction, Costumes and Lighting) highlighting the life of the legendary American performer Will Rogers, an American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, social commentator and motion picture actor. This number, Our Favorite Son, incorporates some pretty intricate precision dance! Twenty-five dancers (decked out in red, white and blue pants suits and tambourine hats) sit side-by-side and perform patterned unison choreography: tapping each other’s hats and kicking up their legs faster and faster. The choreographer, Tommy Tune, won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Choreography in 1991.

5) Besides the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the Rockettes perform throughout the year at various events and celebrations. In 2001, they performed Parade, an all-American tap dance, at George W. Bush’s Presidential Inauguration. Here is a clip of dancers from the 2011 Rockette Summer Intensive who performed the piece in their final showcase.

6) Competitors Sasha Mallory and Alexander Forst performed a memorable piece on Season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance. NappyTabs created the hip-hop routine “Coming Home” about a soldier reuniting with his loved one after coming home from war.

7) Former football player Hines Ward and his partner Kym Johnson performed a rumba routine to “Proud to be an American” during the 2011 season of Dancing with the Stars. The pair scored a high score of 27 out of 30 for their patriotic duet on the competition’s “American Night.”

8) In Season 5 of Glee, the New Directions travel to Hollywood for Nationals. The club dedicates their performance of Neil Diamond’s “America” to their late co-director, Finn.

Photo (top): The Washington Ballet’s Jonathan Jordan in Stars and Stripes. Photo by Brianne Bland.
All videos sourced on youTube.

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More Dancers Say Goodbye on SYTYCD


By Deborah Searle.

Season Nine of So You Think You Can Dance is almost over! With only a few shows left, this season seems to have gone very quickly. Dance Informa spoke with dancers Lindsay Arnold, Will Thomas, Janelle Issis, Dareian Kujawa, Amelia Lowe, George Lawrence II and Audrey Case after their eliminations from the show.

Who was your favorite choreographer to work with?

George
Going in to the season I always wanted to work with Sonya Tayeh and I got to work with her for the first two weeks. It was a dream come true.

Audrey Case of So You Think You Can Dance

Audrey Case

Audrey
My favorite was Travis Wall.  He did my favorite piece that I performed.  He was just an amazing person to work with and he taught me so much.

Amelia
I think it was a toss-up for me because each choreographer is just so different, but one of the funniest choreographers to work with was Nappytabs, that first week, because they are just a riot to be around.  We still got so much work done, but they just have so much fun with what they do and you can tell they love it.

Janelle
Every choreographer is different and they all brought something different to the table.  Sonya sometimes goes for blood.  Sean Cheesman pretty much went for blood with us, and that was probably one of the toughest times we had, but it was so good at the same time and definitely worth it.  Pasha was really funny to work with.  Mia was a lot of fun. I can’t really pick. I learned so much from all of them.

Dareian Kujawa of So You Think You Can Dance

Dareian Kujawa

Dareian
I didn’t really have a favorite.  Sonya would kick your butt in rehearsal.  Her work ethic is crazy, so that was amazing.  Then Pasha’s style is just so amazing, and he is such a man when he dances. I tried to take that away with me.  Nappytabs are sick.  I just try to take a little bit away from each choreographer because they’re so amazing in so many different ways.

What do you think of the new format this season?

Will Thomas of So You Think You Can Dance

Will Thomas

Lindsay
I think the new format was a little bit hard. It was hard doing a performance night and having the height of that and then all of a sudden going straight into eliminations.  It was really hard emotionally every night, because we could never just have a night of fun performances.  It was like it always ended sad.

Will
I feel America didn’t really get to  know us as they did maybe in other seasons, where they’d get to see us two nights a week, rather than just one night a week.

There are rumors that this may, unfortunately, be the last season of So You Think You Can Dance.  If it is, how would you feel about that?

Amelia Lowe of So You Think You Can Dance

Amelia Lowe

Lindsay
I have heard rumors, but I haven’t been told anything for sure.  I know that the people at So You Think You Can Dance are still planning on another season.  I hope there is. I feel that this is such a good show for dancers and it should stay around as long as possible.

Amelia
If this is the last season, I feel so glad that I got to be a part of it because So You Think You Can Dance was such a large part of my childhood growing up and such a huge inspiration for why I dance.  I am glad that I got the chance to be on the show while I could and I can always say that I was on the show that helped inspire me so much.

Janelle
If it is the last season, that would be really sad, but I am honored to be able to be a part of this season.

Lindsay Arnold of So You Think You Can Dance

Lindsay Arnold

Dareian
If it’s true that would really ‘suck’ for other dancers out there that really wanted to audition for the show.  I remember being in high school and it was one of my dreams to be on the show.  It was on my list of goals of things to do after I graduated.  I am just so happy that I went to that audition in Salt Lake City and that I didn’t hold back.  It didn’t last quite as long as I hoped.  I was hoping for a little top-ten action, but I am still happy that I was able to be on the show.  This season, all the dancers were just so amazing.  I can’t even describe how amazing the experience has been.

What are your plans now that the show has finished for you?

Audrey
I’m planning on moving out to LA in December or January. I’m just going to go to auditions and try to get as many jobs as I can, whether it’s acting, dancing or anything really.

Lindsay
We’re going to go on tour in the next couple weeks, which is going to be really fun.  After that I’m hoping to do TV shows, music videos, everything.  I really want to be on Dancing With The Stars, so I’m hoping that that will work out for me.

Janelle Issis of So You Think You Can Dance

Janelle Issis

Amelia
I am looking to branch out and go into movies, like acting and film.  That would be something that would be exciting for me.

Janelle
So many doors are opening.  The belly dance community is rather large, and I would love to teach.  I would also love to maybe one day have a belly dancing cooking show, do modeling or even acting.

Dareian
I am actually considering moving out to LA now because being on the show is a huge advertisement for a dancer.  I have tried the Vegas scene and everything, and I just feel there is so much more commercial work out in LA, so I want to get into that.  Maybe get into singing and acting as well and open up my options, possibly underwear modeling.  I am looking into that as well.

George Lawrence of So You Think You Can Dance

George Lawrence

George
I’m headed home now and I’m just going to chill and rest before I come back for the finale, and then we go on tour so I’m excited about that.  I actually haven’t thought about my plans once the tour ends, except that I’m moving out to LA. I would love to dance with some hip-hop singers like maybe Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga – just get my name known.

Will
I just want to keep growing and working as an actor or a dancer.  I’m in acting classes, so I really want to keep going with that.  I would love anything like Glee. I just want to keep growing, keep taking class and keep auditioning and just see where it takes me.

 

Photos: ©2012 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Mathieu Young/FOX

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Nappytabs Part 1: Dance in Contemporary Culture


Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, Emmy-Award winning choreographers/directors, known for their work on So You Think You Can Dance, talk about the role of dance in contemporary culture: how the dancers are more and more becoming the stars.

Presented by Discount Dance Supply
www.discountdance.com

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Nappytabs Part 2: Dance Theory


Ever wonder what music looks like? Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, Emmy-Award winning choreographers/directors, known for their work on So You Think You Can Dance, talk about what dance and music is to them, and how they tell a story to move an audience.

Presented by Discount Dance Supply
www.discountdance.com

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Nappytabs Part 3: Dance as a Career


Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, Emmy-Award winning choreographers/directors, known for their work on So You Think You Can Dance, talk about their job and give advice to aspiring dancers.

Presented by Discount Dance Supply
www.discountdance.com

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Nappytabs Part 4: Style


Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, Emmy-Award winning choreographers/directors, known for their work on So You Think You Can Dance, talk about their style, why style is important to dance, and their love of the art.

Presented by Discount Dance Supply
www.discountdance.com

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Nappytabs Part 5: Inspiration


What inspires Nappytabs? Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, Emmy-Award winning choreographers/directors, known for their work on So You Think You Can Dance, talk about coming up with new ideas, how they get into the zone, and teamwork.

Presented by Discount Dance Supply
www.discountdance.com

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Nappytabs Part 6: The Specifics


Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo, Emmy-Award winning choreographers/directors, known for their work on So You Think You Can Dance, talk specifics about how they directed and choreographed the Jasmine V music video for her song “All of These Boys.”

Presented by Discount Dance Supply
www.discountdance.com

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